Philippians (Rev. ed.)
Publisher Thomas Nelson
This book appears in the following featured collections.
- Building a Commentary Library - New Testament by Invitation to Biblical Interpretation
- The Pastor’s Bookshelf by Scot McKnight
Hawthorne and Martin offer a comprehensive and in-depth analysis of Philippians, primarily from a grammatical-historical perspective. Their work represents engagement with scholarship of a previous generation. While I have found it still very valuable, it should be complemented by a more recent treatment. [Full Review]
The big drawback is that this volume was revised by Martin, making it a tad unbalanced. Martin's extensive work on Philippians is brought to Hawthorne's work, and sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. Martin's translation choices differ from other scholars, which is sometimes advantageous, other times it just muddies the waters a bit. And of course, the WBC format is problematic. But overall, this is a solid, trustworthy commentary. If you can get beyond the relatively superficial flaws, the content is very, very good, capturing the flow of the whole letter well, avoiding the common problems with some commentaries of chunking the text and not catching the big picture.
Hawthorne’s volume in the WBC series receives unanimous approval. Jim Rosscup points out that “some rank this as the top commentary on Philippians due to the wide reading and masterfully good survey on introductory questions and its carefulness on grammar, philology, capture of the epistle’s flow and handling of difficult passages.” It is targeted at pastors but is equally appropriate for lay leaders. [Full Review]
Ralph Martin updated the original WBC volume on Philippians by adding to the bibliographies and expanding the explanations at the end of pericopes. Martin is the New Testament editor for the series and has written an excellent monograph on the Christ Hymn, as well as a short commentary on Philippians in the New Century series (Eerdmans, 1976). In fact, this section is where the commentary excels. The bibliography is extensive (up to 2003), the comments on the structure of the hymn are detailed and interact well with contemporary rhetorical studies of the hymn. The comments proceed almost word-by-word through this section since virtually every word has theological importance. There is a brief “review” after the main commentary on 2:5-11 summarizing the exegesis of the six verses. [Full Review]
This commentary is a mid-length commentary; roughly in between the length of Silva and Fee, the two other Philippians commentaries I own. However, of these three commentaries, this one by Hawthorne and revised by Martin is my least favorite. Its strength was its exposition of Philippians 2:6-11, particularly in seeing that 2:6-11 is the "kerygmatic center of Philippians." However, the commentary has numerous weaknesses. Like Silva, Hawthorne-Martin provide their own translation; unlike Silva, Hawthorne-Martin often (as opposed to rarely) depart from traditional translations. Their occasionally radical departure from traditional translation/interpretation hinder their commentary from being as expositionally valuable as either Fee's or Silva's, in my opinion. Also, their use of the WBC format is less reader-friendly than either Mounce (Pastoral Epistles) or Lane (Hebrews). If you have the entire WBC set, it is worth reading, but if you don't have this commentary, I wouldn't recommend buying it on its own. [Full Review]
The third one is even a little older and now revised, but a goldmine of accuracy and scholarship, and it was written by G.F. Hawthorne [Full Review]
For those who would like to consult another resource after checking O'Brien and/or Silva, Hawthorne is a good place to turn. As regular readers of this blog series know, I am not a big fan of the WBC format, but many of the commentaries in the series are well worth consulting. This is one of them. [Full Review]